1st XV Match Preview V Leeds (a) Sun 11/11/2012 

Match Preview - by Glyn Barlow

Sunday 12th November

3.00pm KO @ Wharfeside Avenue - Wharfedale RUFC

 

This weekend sees Moseley make a trip back in time to a location last visited in 2005 when they frequented National Division 1. The picturesque location of Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales is the venue for Leeds “home” game against Moseley and will provide supporters and officials with an opportunity to renew old acquaintances.

 

 

We can be sure, however, that the players will not have time to enjoy the views of the Dales from the pitch as a Leeds team fresh from a 14 – 37 first away win of the season to London Scottish, will be looking to gain some momentum in what has been a somewhat stop/start season to date. Currently lying 4th in the League Leeds have seen big wins against Bristol and Doncaster tempered with disappointing defeats to Cornish Pirates, Plymouth and Jersey in the B&I Cup.

 

While the name Leeds Carnegie is a relatively new one in rugby circles the club can trace its history back to the early days of rugby in England. Leeds Rugby club came into being in 1992 when Roundhay and Headingley decided to merge. The club went through a name change to Leeds Tykes before Leeds Metropolitan University became the major shareholder of the club changing its name to Leeds Carnegie, reflecting the universities historical association with Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

 

The earliest form of the club dates back to 1878 with the creation of Headingly FC. At the turn of the century Headingly resisted the temptation to join the Northern Clubs breakaway that was to become Rugby League, and continued as one of the leading Union clubs in the North of England, eventually producing such players as Lions legend Ian McGeechan, England Captain John Spencer and back row dynamo Peter Winterbottom.

 

The other half of Leeds Rugby, Roundhay RUFC came into being in 1924, and while never quite achieving the status of their neighbours had notable successes in county cup competitions, and rose to National Three level prior to the merger.

 

Recent seasons has seen Leeds fighting to maintain a presence in the Premiership. Originally achieving promotion in 2001, relegation hit them in 2006 despite a number of big name signings such as All Black Justin Marshall. New Director of Rugby (and current England Head Coach) Stuart Lancaster took over for the clubs first season outside the Premiership and delivered promotion on the bounce. Success was short lived with the team again finding themselves unable to cement a place in the Premiership.

 

Another dominant season in National Division One during 2008/9 saw the club again climb up the leagues. It’s impossible to resist pointing out that the season was not a total success for Leeds as they lost out in the EDF Cup final at Twickenham to a certain team in red and black. After two seasons in the Premiership the team was again relegated in 2011 and due to a number of playing changes found themselves unable to make the playoff semi-finals last season.

 

During the summer months Head Coach Diccon Edwards has made moves to strengthen his squad by the addition of Prop Damien Tussac from Toulon, Callum Green a second row from Leicester, Doncaster Knights centre Ollie Goss and David Doherty, Mike Myerscough, James Doherty and Matt Smith all from Moseley’s opponents of last week the Cornish Pirates.

 

Last Season Moseley and Leeds met twice with Moseley falling just short in two close fought games:

 

Sunday 16th October

Leeds

21 – 20

Moseley

Saturday 7th January

Moseley

32 – 42

Leeds

 

And what of Moseley? The time since the Cornish Pirates game must have involved considerable reflection on the result. While a draw against a team of the Pirates standing must never be underestimated (nor the two useful points it brought) there must be an element of feeling that there was a win for the taking against a very one dimensional opposition. Had one of the two or three early interception attempts fell to hand, then we might have seen a very different game unfold.

 

From the outset it was clear that the Pirates were looking to play through their pack, indeed ball spun out to the backs was as dangerous for them as it was to Moseley. All credit to Moseley’s defence that they held out against a punishing forward attack. A big improvement on recent weeks was that Moseley played with intensity from the outset, rather than the slow starts we have suffered previously.

 

With standout performances from the likes of Buster Lawrence, Ollie Robinson and Stephan Thorpe the pack fronted up well to a larger, more experienced eight. In hindsight Moseley may have been better served to move more of the possession they won along the back line where the Pirates appeared to lack Moseley’s pace. Particular credit for testing the Pirates defence should go to Anthony Carter who, returning to his best position of Full Back, made some telling breaks from wayward kicks downfield.

 

This weekend Moseley will again need their defence on top form as Leeds boast one of the more effective try scoring attacks in the league with Back Row Jacob Rowan leading the way with six so far this season. Based on performances to date Leeds appear to prefer attacking out wide on the wing and through the back row who between them have accounted for 65% of the tries to date. Whilst being fully committed to defence Moseley cannot afford to give away penalties as Joe Ford, currently third in the leagues list of point scorers will punish them.

 

If Moseley start the game on Sunday the way they did at Billesley they can pressure Leeds to stop their attack functioning early on.  During the second half on Saturday Glyn Hughes made some very effective kicks to touch which set up position for the team to pressure the Pirates into mistakes, leading to Ollie Thomas’ three fine penalties. More of this tactical approach should pay dividends for the team.

 

To date Leeds have shown themselves vulnerable to conceding tries as the game progresses so we will need to see a full 80 minutes of effort, with appropriate support from the bench, if they are to leave Yorkshire with an all-important win.

 

As the table now stands Moseley are within striking distance of London Scottish, Bristol and eight place in the league. They cannot, however, take their eye of Jersey and Doncaster who are also closing the gap from the bottom.

 

All to play for then, let’s hope the team return with more than just memories of a very pleasant venue to play rugby.